Applying Neuroscience to "Debug"​ Difficult Change


As change leaders, when it comes to difficult change, we try to do everything we can to prepare for smooth and seamless transformation and implementation. Studying Neuroscience suggests that there are a few more "bugs" we can clear out of the way if we want to spend a little more time up front to save a huge amount of time and needless complications down the road...

Imagine this, it's one of those big holidays and you are hosting family and friends for dinner. In this scenario you are the planning-controlling type and you really want everything to go smoothly. You plan out and tell your guests about your vision for the meal, you outline the courses and give everyone a detailed description of what to expect. You set up the table beautifully, leaving enough room for each guest to sit comfortably, taking into account potential dynamics, and trying to anticipate any possible hiccups. Everything is on task and beautiful while things are in planning. Literally five minutes after they arrive, people start doing what people do. The unpredictability of reality hits and your plan is no longer on track.

It is perhaps a bit of a stretch, but it might be helpful to think about traditional change models in the context of the "host" trying to do everything you can to allow dinner to run smoothly.

You do this by trying to:

  • Minimize discomfort, potential conflict, and potential blocks.

  • Increase effective communication and transparency.

  • Reduce potential threats.

  • Build trust.

  • Other efforts on your part as the "host" to ensure the needs of your guests are met and that everything is structured, planned, and delivered to ensure a seamless-feeling, enjoyable evening.

While there is a great deal of value in attentively doing everything we can to create the right "setting", sometimes the complexity of reality and a variety of seemingly unexpected actions and interactions turn a well planned process into difficult-to navigate, draining, slow going progress.